Situated across the river from the vibrant streets of Hakata, Hotel Il Palazzo stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of Italian designer Aldo Rossi. Its striking façade, a blend of red travertine marble and verdigris copper lintels, has retained its luster since the hotel first opened its doors in 1989.
Conceived with the ambitious vision of “creating a timeless social asset deeply rooted in the community,” the hotel’s interior was directed by renowned designer Shigeru Uchida, who also commissioned Rossi for the architectural design. At its inception, the hotel boasted four uniquely designed bars, each crafted by different design luminaries: Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce, Shiro Kuramata, and Aldo Rossi. The project garnered significant attention, not only as Japan’s inaugural design hotel but also as a cultural nexus linking Fukuoka to the global stage, with contributions from world-class creators like Ikuyo Mitsuhashi and Ikko Tanaka.
Fast forward to October 2023, the hotel has been rejuvenated after a two-year renovation process, costing approximately 1.8 billion yen. The refurbishment was spearheaded by the Uchida Design Institute, which sought to honor the late Shigeru Uchida’s original vision and design philosophy.
The hotel’s exterior is the work of Aldo Rossi, while its interiors were crafted by Shigeru Uchida—a duality that is also reflected in the “exterior space that feels like an interior,” located behind the clock tower that Rossi predominantly designed.
Spanning eight floors above ground and one below, the hotel offers 77 guest rooms in total. The subterranean level serves as the hotel’s reception area and features a versatile lounge, both of which are open to the public.
The entrance to this level is adorned in dark blue, one of the hotel’s original keynote colors. Inside, the guest rooms are furnished with pieces that pay tribute to Uchida’s design ethos. Throughout the property, decorative elements include mirrors etched with Rossi’s artwork and timepieces and lighting fixtures designed by Uchida himself.
The basement lounge, with its seating capacity of approximately 130, is an art piece in itself. It captures the essence of Shigeru Uchida’s signature installation, “Dancing Water,” complemented by intricate lighting effects. The space serves a buffet-style menu from breakfast to dinner and transitions into a bar lounge open to non-residents after 9 pm.
The buffet area is expansive, featuring an 11-meter-long table laden with a diverse array of around 50 food and dessert options.
Designed with a focus on “respecting unique cultures,” the guest rooms offer a comfortable experience for modern travelers. The use of indirect lighting creates a subdued ambiance, allowing guests to unwind in tranquility. The rooms feature top-tier double-cushioned beds from Slumberland, a prestigious bed brand endorsed by the British royal family, enhancing the sense of luxury and exclusivity.
In a nod to its storied past, the hotel has also revived its original logo design from 1989.
In the diverse hospitality landscape of Fukuoka in 2023, few establishments can rival the design sophistication and enduring legacy of Il Palazzo. It’s not an overstatement to consider this hotel a veritable icon of the city. Whether you’re planning an extended stay or simply wish to indulge in their culinary offerings—from cocktails to their lavish breakfast spread—Il Palazzo is a destination we wholeheartedly recommend.
HOTEL IL PALAZZO
Lounge Restaurant (Web reservation)
– Breakfast Buffet: 7:00~11:00, ¥2,500
– Lunch Buffet: 11:30~16:00, ¥1,900
– Dinner Buffet: 16:00~21:00, ¥1,900
– Bar: 21:00~3:00, Cover charge ¥1,000, Drinks from ¥800
For aficionados of the design movements that shaped the 1980s and 1990s, a stay at HOTEL IL PALAZZO comes highly recommended. Complement your visit with a tour of Nexus World, a pioneering collective housing complex located in Higashi-ku, Kashiihama. This architectural marvel was commissioned by the esteemed architect Arata Isozaki, offering a holistic experience of the era’s design ethos.
Steven Hall / Osamu Ishiyama / Rem Koolhaas / Mark Mack / Christian de Portzamparc / Oscar Tusquets